The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

7 Tips for Using Eye Drops

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on August 16, 2017 at 7:56 am

If you’ve ever had prescription eye drops, you know that those tiny bottles can cost a pretty penny, and can be challenging to apply in the eyes. Eye drops can be used for many reasons like allergies, infections, inflammation, dryness or vision disorders.

Here are seven tips to help you get the very last squeeze out of your eye drops.

Don’t waste your drops.

Eye drops can be expensive, so it’s important to make sure you’re wasting as little as possible. If you have trouble applying eye drops, an eye drop guide may help. The AutoDrop Guide, the Magic Touch, and the Simply Touch are three popular guides that can help you easily apply your drops.

Make sure you know if your eye drops require any special instructions.

It’s important that eye drops are sterile when placing them into your eye. Therefore, it’s essential that you abide by any special instructions like:

  • Storage requirements. Some drops, like Xalatan (latanoprost), should be stored in the refrigerator if unopened. However, once the bottle has been opened you can store the bottle at room temperature for 6 weeks.
  • Expiration limitations. Some eye drops require that you throw it away after 14 days.
  • Special directions. Some eye drops need to be mixed or require that you wait a certain amount of time before applying another drop of a different medication. Make sure you read the special instructions before using your eye drops.

Ask your doctor for samples.

The old saying “ask and you shall receive” can apply to prescription eye drops. Some doctors may be able to supply you with a sample bottle of an expensive prescription eye drop, and all you have to do is ask! Many doctor’s offices have a closet full of sample medications from pharmaceutical reps they can give out to you free of charge.

Some eye drops are now available over the counter.

The beauty of OTC medications is the convenience and ability to select a medication for your specific symptoms. Although a visit to your doctor’s office is typically not required, it is always recommended to check with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning to peruse the OTC aisles.

Make sure your eye drops don’t interact with anything else.

Regardless if you take a medication by mouth, apply it on your skin, inhale it into your lungs, or drop it into your eye it will still be absorbed into your blood stream and distributed throughout your body. Eye drops do have a more local effect meaning that they treat the problem you may be having in your eye; however, the medication can still get into your blood stream. This makes it important to disclose any other medications you may be taking to your doctor or pharmacist

Do the math.

Insurance companies won’t allow you to fill your medication if they think it’s too soon, based on the calculation the pharmacy provides them with. This means that it might be helpful to know the number of drops your bottle contains.

The most common conversion is 20 drops per 1 ml; however, some insurance companies may calculate it differently by using 15 drops per 1 ml or even lower at 12 drops per 1 ml. This means that a standard 1 ml bottle will contain 100 drops of medicine.

This calculation can give you an idea of how soon you can refill your medication.

Eye drops can be used in other places.

That’s right, eye drops are multi-purpose – they can be used in places other than just the eyes. Some eye drops are extremely versatile and can be used in places such as in the ears, on the tongue, or onto the nails.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use your eye drops in other places unless instructed by your doctor.

5 Ways to Treat Female Pattern Hair Loss

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on August 15, 2017 at 8:57 am

Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) is the most common cause of hair loss in women. While the cause is unknown, FPHL is more common in women with obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes).

FPHL mainly affects the mid and frontal regions of the scalp, while preserving the frontal hairline. Your part gets wider, and hair near your temples may recede, but you will not lose all of your hair. Noticing that your part is widening, or your ponytail is thinning, may bring you to your doctor. Help! What works?

Common myths about hair loss in women

  1. Genetics do not appear to play a role in female pattern hair loss. No definitive familial inheritance has been identified in women, unlike in men with androgenic alopecia (“male pattern baldness”) where genetics play an important role from both mom and dad’s side.
  2. The majority of female hair loss is NOT tied to high levels of androgens (male hormones). Only 39% of women with FPHL have high androgen levels whereas male balding is a genetically determined androgen-dependent trait.
  3. Taking oral estrogen (hormone replacement therapy) has no clear effect on hair growth and in some studies showed an inhibitory effect.

Medical causes for hair loss in women

Before you make the diagnosis of Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) which has no known causes, look for these:

  1. An under or overactive thyroid. Hypo or hyperthyroidism may cause hair loss, and is easy to rule out with a blood test called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone).
  2. Iron deficiency anemia. A common complaint in iron-deficient women is hair loss, with increased loss reported in women with ferritins less than 100ng/dL. That’s an easy blood test.
  3. Psychological and emotional stress. A major illness, severe psychological trauma, significant weight loss and childbirth may precipitate an episode of hair loss that begins a few months after the episode. This is called telogen effluvium, and hair loss occurs in all areas of the scalp.
  4. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Sometimes this condition causes your body to produce too many androgens, which can decrease the growth of hair on your scalp.
  5. Medications. Some common culprits include beta blockers, antidepressants, anticoagulants, and chemotherapy drugs. Read more about this in our blog here.

Options for treating hair loss

Once your hair loss has been determined to be FPHL, and not related to one of the above-listed conditions, here are your options:

  1. Topical solutions of 2% minoxidil (Rogaine). Minoxidil, applied as 1 ml twice daily, is the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of female pattern hair loss. What is interesting is that minoxidil 2% and 5% have basically the same result.
  2. Oral finasteride (Propecia). While finasteride 1 mg tablets have not been shown to be helpful, a few studies have shown improvement with finasteride 5 mg daily.
  3. Zinc sulfate + calcium pantothenate. These are over the counter supplements. For those using daily topical minoxidil adding zinc sulfate capsules 220 mg + calcium pantothenate tablets 100 mg twice a week was better than with minoxidil alone. Worth a try!
  4. Spironolactone (Aldactone). There is some evidence that using Aldactone (spironolactone) at a dose of 100-200 mg a day benefits women who haven’t responded to the use of topical Minoxidil.
  5. Platlet rich plasma (PRP) scalp injections. Very recent studies have shown that PRP injected into the scalp can improve both hair density and thickness. The basic idea behind PRP injection is to deliver high concentrations of growth factors to the scalp, which the hope of stimulating hair regrowth.

Hope this helps!

Dr. O

Prevident Products for Tooth Decay – How Are They Different?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on August 11, 2017 at 6:11 am

If you have ever used a Prevident dental product, you might have seen the many forms that are available like Prevident 5000 Plus, Prevident 5000 Booster PlusPrevident 5000 SensitivePrevident 5000 Enamel Protect and Prevident 5000 Dry Mouth

With so many Prevident dental products, it can be confusing and hard to determine the differences between these similarly named products.

How do these products compare to one another?

All of the prevident products are similar in that they contain sodium fluoride 1.1%, which aids in cavity prevention.

The main difference between these products is that Prevident 5000 Booster Plus allows for increased fluoride dispersion and works faster to allow fluoride absorption. This means that it’s ideal for patients with a high risk for cavities or tooth decay, those with crown or bridge work, and those with white spots on their teeth. 

Prevident 5000 Plus does not allow you to absorb the fluoride as well and the benefits of fluoride take longer to be seen compared to the Prevident 5000 Booster Plus.

What is the difference between a dental gel and a dental paste?

Gels are made with silica to create a thinner, clearer texture, which can be less abrasive or harsh on the teeth. Pastes are made with hydrated silica, which gives them a thicker texture. They can be messier, and more abrasive on the teeth.

In reality, there is not much of a difference between the two, and both are typically made up of similar substances. The choice of product is usually a personal preference!

Who would benefit from using the Prevident 5000 Enamel Protect product?

The Prevident 5000 Enamel Protect product is ideal for patients with sensitive teeth who need to prevent cavities.  

Prevident 5000 Enamel Protect helps reduce the painful sensitivity of the teeth to cold, heat, acids, or sweets and strengths teeth as well as protects against acid wear.

2 Medications Recalled Due to Mislabeling

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on August 9, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Believe it or not, medications are recalled on a daily basis and due to numerous reasons.  Medication recalls can range from minor to life-threatening incidents if not immediately and appropriately taken care of.

One of the most recent recalls, occurring on July 27th, involves two very different medications cyclobenzaprine & amantadine

What are these drugs prescribed for?

Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxer, while amantadine can be used for Parkinson’s disease, viral-based conditions, and treating the side effects of other medications.

Who can recall a drug? 

A manufacturer can voluntarily recall their medication, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can request or require that a manufacturer recalls a particular medication.

In this case, Apace Packaging LLC has voluntarily recalled 1 lot of cyclobenzaprine and 1 lot of amantadine, with the knowledge of the FDA, due to mislabeling.Why

Why where cyclobenzaprine and amantadine recalled?

A small number of cartons containing cyclobenzaprine 5 mg tablets may potentially be mislabeled as amantadine 100 mg capsules. The blister pack inside the carton is correctly labeled as cyclobenzaprine 5 mg, though.

Taking the wrong medication may potentially cause severe adverse effects like dangerous drug interactions, sudden worsening of your disease, allergic reaction or death.

Which products were recalled?

In this recall, only 1 lot of both cyclobenzaprine and amantadine were affected.  

The recall will affect the following:

  • Drug: Cyclobenzaprine 5 mg tablets (50 unit dose) and amantadine 100 mg capsules (50 unit dose)
  • Manufacturer: AvKare, Inc
  • Packager: Apace Packaging, LLC
  • Lots:
    • Cyclobenzaprine 5 mg tablet – Lot 16710 (Expiration date: 7/2018)
    • Amantadine 100 mg capsule – Lot 16710 (Expiration date: 7/2018)
  • National Drug Code (NDC)

What has Apace Packaging LLC done to alert those who may be affected?

Apace Packaging LLC has notified its distributors and customers by email and is arranging for return of all recalled product.

Distributors that have any of the product which is being recalled should contact Customer Service at AvKARE, Inc. at 931-292-6222 to arrange for its return.

What do I do if I think I have a recalled package of Eliquis?

If you have questions regarding this recall you can contact Apace Packaging LLC by calling 270-434-2722 Monday-Friday from 8am–4pm Central Standard Time. You should contact your physician or healthcare provider if you have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using these drug products.

Always inspect your medications, including all parts of the packaging and devices. If you ever notice your medication doesn’t look or smell right, contact the manufacturer or ask your pharmacist for more information. You can also notify the FDA’s MedWatch Reporting Program as they can conduct further necessary investigations.

7 Resources to Help with Opioid Addiction

by Tori Marsh on August 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Prescription narcotics have been essential to improving the quality of life for those living with pain, but sometimes at a high cost. Since the 1990s, deaths related to opioids have quadrupled, resulting in a serious public health epidemic and the deadliest drug crisis in US history.

In 2015, roughly 33,0000 deaths were related to opioids, averaging around 100 deaths a day. Sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1991, even though studies have shown that reports of chronic and acute pain have remained steady. As bad as that sounds, it is getting worse—STAT News estimated that opiates could cause as many as 650,000 deaths over the next decade.

Opioids are still incredibly helpful for many Americans, but it’s important to keep yourself informed and know how to get help if you need it. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some resources that can help you and your loved ones stay safe.

First, what are opioids?

An opioid is a type of drug that helps treat pain. The majority of medications that fall under this category are available with a doctor’s prescription, but some—like heroin—are not prescribed by a doctor and are considered illegal street drugs.

Some of the most commonly prescribed opioids include Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), OxyContin (oxycodone ER), and Duragesic (fentanyl) among many others. They can come in many forms, like a pill, liquid, wafer, or even a patch.

In the US, most are considered “schedule II” drugs by the DEA, which means there are restrictions on how they can be prescribed and filled at the pharmacy.

Opioids affect the brain and can increase pleasant feelings in addition to offering pain relief. It is this feeling of euphoria that leads to abuse, addiction or overdose.

How do you treat an overdose?

First, know what to look for. Symptoms of an overdose include respiratory failure, slow breathing, small pupils, and loss of consciousness or vomiting.

Someone experiencing an opioid overdose needs immediate medical attention. If you believe you or someone else is showing signs of an overdose, call 911 immediately.

I take an opioid prescription—how can I avoid an overdose?

First, follow the instructions for use—use your medication as prescribed, don’t mix with alcohol, and talk to your doctor about any other medications you may be taking. Overdoses are more likely if you mix your opioid prescription with alcohol or a sedative-hypnotic drug (Valium or Ativan are common examples). However, many overdoses are simply a result of taking too much, by accident or abuse.

If you take an opioid for severe, chronic pain, you may also be prescribed naloxone or Narcan, which can temporarily reverse the dangerous effects of opiates. These drugs are administered in two ways, intramuscularly—a shot into the thigh or buttock—or through a nasal spray device. With basic training, even non-medical professionals like family or concerned bystanders can give these life-saving drugs. For more information on safely administering naloxone or Narcan, read the opioid overdose toolkit here.

If you take Vicodin, Percocet, or other drugs that combine an opioid with acetaminophen (Tylenol), you should also be aware of the danger of an acetaminophen overdose. It’s especially important not to combine your prescription pain medication with over-the-counter Tylenol or cold medications—you can take a dangerous dose of acetaminophen quickly without knowing it.

How can I avoid abuse?

No one is recommending that doctors withhold pain medications from patients undergoing a medical procedure, or experiencing severe pain. You should know though that even when opioids are appropriately prescribed—and you take them as prescribed—it’s still possible to become dependent. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 people who are prescribed an opioid for pain struggle with addiction.

There are a couple steps you can take to help avoid the slippery slope:

  • Follow the dosage directions on the label, and take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Have a friend or family member track your medication and help you through the recovery process.
  • Get rid of your leftover pills if they’re no longer needed. Be sure to follow the FDA’s guidelines on proper disposal of unused medications.

What are the warning signs of opioid addiction?

Becoming addicted to an opiate is not a conscious decision. Opiates are both physically and psychologically addictive—they stimulate parts of the brain tied with reward.

There are some warning signs you can watch out for:

  • Taking the medication longer than prescribed.
  • Taking opiates for the euphoric high. Be aware if you begin taking your opiate not to ease pain, but only for the euphoric feeling.
  • Stealing drugs or supplies.
  • Improper administration—for instance, grinding and snorting your medication rather than swallowing whole as prescribed.
  • Developing a drug tolerance where you need more opioids to achieve the desired effect.
  • Memory problems.

How is opioid addiction treated?

  • Detoxification is the first step in treating opioid addiction, but be aware that withdrawal from opiates is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Many people require a supervised detox to manage the symptoms from withdrawal.
  • Rehabilitation centers (yes, rehab) are the most common way of treating opioid addiction. These centers typically guide patients through detox, create an environment that supports sobriety, and teach healthy behaviors. Some insurance plans cover drug rehabilitation, but coverage differs in each state, so be sure to check with your provider. Many states also offer substance abuse services, which is usually the most cost effective option. You can see the directory for state-funded facilities here.
  • Medication-assisted therapy is another common way that specialists are treating dependency. Medications like methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine can help prevent relapse, and help people overcome an addiction without the symptoms of withdrawal. These medications work differently and have different side-effects, so your doctor will create a personalized plan for you. Keep in mind that medication-assisted treatment alone may not be enough to prevent relapse, and doctors typically recommend a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.

I think I (or a loved one) may need help—what can I do?

Remember, recovery is possible! Here are some resources to help you or your loved one:

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